In order to resume mechanical raking of Lyngbya in Kings Bay, Save Crystal River (SCR) has applied for an Environmental Resource Permit (ERP) from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The help of a local environmental permitting company was obtained and all of the appropriate paperwork was completed. Numerous meetings were attended by SCR to insure that we met all of the permit requirements properly. The final stage of the permitting process in underway and we will hopefully finally begin mechanical harvesting of Lyngbya again in the very near future once the ERP permit is issued by the State of Florida.
Mechanical Harvester Demonstration Conducted for State Officials
As part of our efforts to comply with state regulations, SCR hosted a Lyngbya removal demonstration using the original mechanical harvester we began our cleanup project with.
Two officials from DEP and one from SWFTMD attended the demonstration, rode on the mechanical harvester, looked at the massive collection of Lyngbya as it was collected, loaded on to the conveyor, and dumped into the removal trailer. During this process, water sampling was conducted by the environmental resource company to evaluate the level of turbulence in the water and the speed at which it returned to normal conditions.
After nearly two hours riding on the harvester with numerous SCR members in very cold conditions and watching the unloading process, the demonstration was concluded. During the demonstration, Jerry Muetzel, the owner of the harvester, did an outstanding job of operating the machine and explaining the operational process to our visitors.
At one point one of the DEP officials said to Jerry “that looks very muddy”. Jerry stopped the harvester, grabbed a handful of the material and squeezed it in his fist. He then open his hand which showed no mud only the fibrous mat of live and dead lyngbya with small particles of sand. This was clearly an unexpected revelation to the observer as the “muddy” material turned out to be part of the decaying mat of Lyngbya that lies at the bottom of our canals and bay.
Once the 175 cubic foot trailer was loaded with Lyngbya, the visitors were transported to the approved dumping site to inspect the disposal area.
The Final Results
The visitors from DEP and SWFMTD indicated they were pleased with the depth of knowledge and understanding the SCR board members of diverse backgrounds have concerning Lyngbya and its removal. They also expressed high regard for the level of success the mechanical harvester is capable of achieving. All of the turbidity measurements taken met required standards and everyone was pleased with the speed with which any temporary turbidity dissipated.